But remote working can sometimes feel isolating and pressurised, despite the business case for remote teams. Here are some direct ways to help you in the task of managing remote teams and keeping them motivated.
Take the lead schedule chats proactively rather than wait for them to happen or only happen when something goes wrong
Using multiple methods not only use email and phone calls to communicate, but also Slack, Skype, video, whatever works
Hold regular meetings these meetings should include time with individuals as well as the team as a whole
Keep information flowing update team members about their progress and that of the project, but also big picture news about the company and industry
Offer detailed feedback the more immediate and specific the feedback, the more the motivation become intrinsic, like a game
Remote working is great right? But do you know how to help remote team members stay connected? Building a remote team helps companies to cut office costs and find talented staff, letting employers recruit from a much wider talent pool. Staff love it, too. According to some surveys, remote working is regarded as one of the most valuable perks a company can offer. For many of us, working remotely saves time and money, bringing freedom from commuting and office distractions. As a result, more and more employers are offering staff the option of working from home. A number of innovative companies, such as Buffer and 10up, have even gone fully remote, giving up their offices altogether and building remote teams with staff working from any location they choose around the world.
While there are plenty of positives to working remotely, if you want to help your remote team thrive, there are some key issues to take into account. One important consideration is how to help your remote team cope with the isolation that can creep in if they are working ‘home alone ‘. After a while, some remote workers can start to feel socially isolated and professionally out of the loop, missing regular input from friends and colleagues. If not addressed, that feeling of isolation can have an impact on staff well-being and productivity. It can be a particular problem if only one or two people in your team are working from home, while most of the team are meeting up each day in person. Luckily, there are lots of things you can do to help remote staff feel part of the team.
Build Remote Into Your Recruitment Process
A lot of difficulties can be avoided by making sure you consider whether someone will be a good fit for remote working at the hiring stage. Traits to look for include someone who is self-motivated, independent, enjoys taking responsibility for getting work done, and a good communicator. Be clear during the interview process about how your team works together, and how remote team members fit into that picture.
Get Your Team Communications Right
Good communication is vital when you aren ‘t regularly meeting in person. There are two parts to this – tools, and how you use them. There is now a huge choice of online tools to help your team stay connected, many offering free or low-cost options. Most fully-remote teams quickly ditch email as their main form of communication, preferring online social and task-management tools such as Slack, Asana, and Yammer. These text-based tools offer an informal, easy way to keep team-mates talking and sharing ideas, much like they would in the office. Another option is Sococo, which uses avatars to create the feeling of a virtual office.
Most teams also like to mix in some ‘virtual ‘ face-to-face time, using tools such as Skype, Google Hangouts, Zoom or Appear.in for quick and easy video calls. When there are tricky issues to discuss, a phone or video call is usually a better way to resolve things than a stream of text messages. If you ‘re working across time zones, simple tools such as World Time Buddy can help with scheduling meetings, and knowing who is online when.
Once you ‘ve got the tools sorted, you also need to consider how your team will use them. For example, some teams like to start their day with a check-in (often called a stand-up), where everyone – whether they are working remotely or not – dials in to share a few quick thoughts about what they ‘re working on that day. That can help remote workers avoid the feeling of working away in isolation, unaware of what the rest of the team is up to. You might also want to agree how and when your team communicates. For example, if you ‘re in different time zones, do you expect remote team members to work overlapping hours and respond immediately to messages, or are you happy to work asynchronously, with team members online and working at different times?
When a new remote-worker joins your team, it ‘s worth taking the time to explain your communication tools and processes, especially if they are new to remote working. And from time to time, reassess how your communication tools and processes are working (and get feedback from the team). As teams grow and change, something that that used to work well may need tweaking. Getting communication right can go a very long way to helping remote team members stay in the loop.
Build Habits That Bring Remote Colleagues Into the Team
If you ‘ve only got one or two remote team members, try to build a culture that ‘s mindful of those who are working outside of the office. Make sure they are included in relevant meetings (even if it is a little bit of extra hassle to set up video calls.) Little things can help remote staff feel included. If you use online tools like Slack, something as simple as a quick Hi, how was your weekend to a remote team member can make them feel connected and welcome. If you celebrate birthdays in your office, don ‘t forget remote team members.
You can also try to find ways to connect in the real world. For example, if your team is going to a conference, you could use that as a chance to schedule some time to meet socially with remote colleagues. Some fully remote companies invest some of the money saved on office space in hosting large-scale company get-togethers, to give team members the chance to bond and work together in real life.
Help Remote Staff to Build Their Networks
If your remote team members are based a long way from your office, you might want to help them to connect to other networks that can give them a more local work community. For example, are there networking events they can go to? Or maybe there are online groups for their sector or industry on Facebook or Slack where they can connect with other people working in the same role?
Consider Paying For Coworking Space
Working remotely doesn ‘t have to mean working at home. We are in the middle of a boom in coworking spaces – that is, shared office spaces where you can rent a desk from anything for a few hours to five days a week. Initially popular with startups, many larger companies are now renting coworking space for their remote team members. There are lots of options in most cities, catering to everyone from huge corporate teams to solo freelancers and creative types. Just to give one example, UK company NearDesk offers flexible pay-as-you-go coworking in many towns.
Things are slightly trickier in rural areas, where there may not be a coworking space nearby. You could encourage your staff to try a Work Jelly (yes, that ‘s really what it ‘s called). Work Jelly is an informal, free coworking day, often held monthly. There are jelly gatherings all over the UK – you can find the nearest on the UK Jelly website. Another option could be joining myworkhive ‘s ‘virtual ‘ coworking community, where a group of us ‘meet ‘ each day to work and network, sharing tips, ideas (and the occasional cat gif).
Train Your Managers on Remote Issues
Managing a remote team member brings a few special considerations. A supportive line manager can really help remote staff to feel that their particular issues are being considered. For example, anyone who manages a remote team or remote employee needs to know about your organisation ‘s remote working policy, which should cover things such as which home-office equipment your organisation will pay for, health and safety issues and so on.
Trust and goal-setting are also key. Managers need to set really clear work objectives, as remote staff are often judged not on the hours they are in the office, but the work they are delivering. To perform well, they need clear deliverables and timeframes, and to know that they are trusted to get on with the job.
Encourage team managers to make sure that remote team members aren ‘t forgotten when interesting projects are allocated, or when training is being planned. If a remote colleague can ‘t make it to the office for training, there are loads of online courses covering most topics.
Encourage Remote Staff to Step Up
There ‘s a lot you can do as an employer to ensure your remote staff don ‘t become isolated. But it ‘s also important to encourage your remote employees to take action to help themselves. For example, encourage them to speak up if they feel they are becoming isolated, let them know it ‘s an issue you take seriously and want to help with. Make it clear that they are full members of your team, and you welcome their input and suggestions. Just because they aren ‘t in the office, doesn ‘t mean they can ‘t lead on a project, take part in training, and have a great career within your organisation.
Hopefully these tips will help you build a happy and productive remote team. If you ‘d like to talk more about all things remote, you can connect with myworkhive on Twitter or find them on Facebook.
The business case for remote working is often made in terms of benefits to workers. But what about benefits for the employers, companies and organisations that use remote teams? What’s in it for them, in basic, bottom-line, profit-and loss terms?
There are savings that a business will make immediately by using remote workers and teams. Other savings will take a little more time, but are just as tangible.
Remote teams require less spending on office space and overheads, such as rental fees and utility bills, and payroll costs where on-site support services are used
Remote teams accrue less transportation expenses, since there is a reduced need to travel
Remote teams waste less money on absence and sick pay, according to studies
Remote teams enjoy higher retention rates, so less money is spent on interviews and advertising for staff
Saving money is negative; making money is positive. What’s the business case that working with remote teams can increase your profit?
Remote working both attracts and keeps the best people, since it widens your talent pool to a global scope.
Many studies have proved that remote teams show greater productivity than office-based teams. Some reasons include: less exhausting commuting; less micromanaging; more communication and collaboration; and more focus and freshness.
Despite initial indications, there is evidence that remote teams have improved accessibilily to each other and their leaders compared with their office-bound rivals.
Remote teamwork improves managementprocesses due to enhanced flexibility in resource allocation and work scheduling.
Remote working improves the product development time, which is accelerated by the use of Agile methods.
Perhaps most obviously, remote teams have the highest staff morale. Why? Because remote working demonstrates trust, allows for flexible working, turns staff socialising into a pleasure rather than a chore, permits commute savings (fuel, insurance, extra car, wear and tear), unleashes massive time savings, and boosts retirement acceleration.
Making the Case
I’ve made some substantial claims about the financial case for remote teams in this blog. I’ve also referred to studies. What are they?
Global Workplace Analytics specialises in producing reliable, fact-based analyses on the business case for telecommuting, remote and flexible work. Read their research on the Advantages of Agile Work Strategies For Companies derived from a wide range of studies from US and international firms.
The physical, psychological, financial and temporal toll that commuting to work takes on us was recorded in a 2013 American Community Survey. Non-remote teams suffered from greater stress, lower cardio-respiratory fitness, higher rates of obesity, and elevated blood pressure. Astonishingly, the average American wastes 32.5 days per year commuting to work!
Making the Break
We work on remote projects and gigs, particularly with international clients. If you’d like to work with us, contact us for a chat. As well as training and coaching work, we also provide remote writing and online services.
Series 7 is under way. The first episode on the current series was shown on 10 May. Catch up on the first two episodes of The Apprentice. Then, come back and join the debate here.
Allegedly, the Alan Sugar’s apprentices have been selected from the country’s top minds and sharpest entrepreneurial figures. And, what do we get? Read on.
Spoiler Alert: the first two episodes, including who got fired, are discussed below. And, you can read more on BBC – The Apprentice.
Don’t tell me the sky’s the limit, when there are footsteps on the moon.
Surely, we think, they’re joking. I think the less drivel-spouting contestants may be able to survive the barrage of drivel by adopting some of Sarcastics Anonymous. It’s a simple strategy (oh no, there’s another buzz-word!).
Either that, or I volunteer to run a five-minute workshop, to help contestants understand the concept of a metaphor.
Edward, who was fired in episode 1, seemed a likeable-enough guy, yet his mouth seemed to run away with him. I counted three instances of the following phrase, within as many minutes.
You’ve just got to roll with the punches.
And, in defence of his action throughout that week’s task…
Not only am I the youngest in the team, I’m the shortest
The others up for firing in the episode remained strangely controlled, revealing only the briefest of smirks.
His failure? It came down to an inability to express himself clearly or succinctly. Lord Sugar is known for curtailing pontificators, mercilessly.
Alex was fired in episode 2. I blame the Welsh sideburns – that’s all I have to say on the matter.
Most bizarre moment
Edna’s gloves distracted from what she was trying to say throughout her pitch.
Star of the show so far: Jim Eastwood
At Sensei Towers, our money is on the man from Cookstown, Jim Eastwood. He’s referred to variously on the hilarious Apprentice Twitter streams as SoupMan, or as Allen prefers, JediJim. Follow the brutal – but entertaining – live tweeting on The Apprentice.
Noobs may find the following useful:
PM Project manager.
“Group hug!” Let’s indulge in some corporate bonding for the cameras.
OK, guys, let’s strategise We need to figure out what the heck we’re doing before the car reaches the market stall. Oh, we’re here.
Roll with the punches. Keep your chin up, even when you know you’ve in way over your head.
Are you following? If so, have you formed any opinions yet on who might win? Or, who might be fired next? Answers on a comment below.
They both have stuff to teach businesses, that’s what! There have been quality BBC articles and vids recently on new sources of inspiration for business development. One was comedy. You don’t have to think too hard to realise that the skills necessary in stand-up – creativity, improvisation, confidence, communication – are directly transferable to the world of work. Continue reading “What Do Comedians and Wolves Have In Common?”
This two day workshop will take place on Wednesday – Thursday, 17-18 February 10, 09:30-16:30. Speaker: Dawn Baird.
The realities of modern work life – flat structures, tough workloads and the need to exert influence across traditional boundaries – ensure that assertiveness skills are not an optional extra. Aggression is unacceptable; passivity is ineffective. Continue reading “Assertiveness & Workplace Confidence”
I thought about the A-Team so much as a kid I used to dream about them. I had pictures of them on my bedroom wall rather than the usual rock bands or football teams. They were THE team. I loved the way each one had a role, a set of skills that meshed with the others. I loved the way they worked together to accomplish a mission. I loved the sense of camaraderie, danger and overcoming the odds.
Sometimes you come across a tool that’s so straightforward, it’s worth sharing. (I’ve no connection to Huddle, nor have I been paid to endorse it.)
Following a recent meeting, I was back on the search for some simple project management software. Something that primarily allowed me to list dated tasks and share files, as a way of communicating basic, factual information between face-to-face meetings.
It would be a bonus if it allowed for discussions and random ideas to be posted, with the option for replies to be added. I wasn’t looking for much. When I asked for recommendations on Twitter, I’d already stumbled across Huddle, following a very short search on Google. I’d already surveyed lots of tools, but hadn’t found anything easy to use. Then, along came Huddle! Continue reading “Project Management Software – Huddle”
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